Don't get me wrong, I have lived my adult life with the attitude of what you think about you create, therefore negative worrying is not something I like to indulge in. I even taught courses for many years on all topics that surround this. My default, internal voice says all will be okay.
That being said, I am hearing from people and experiencing some well-meaning people who do not seem to know the difference between having a positive attitude and expressing your authentic self
In a recent conversation with a friend for instance, she expressed deep disappointment in not being able to express her fear of the chronic pain she was feeling. It was clear it was uncomfortable for her friend to hear it. She used several expressions such as, "you'll be okay, you're such a strong person, think positive". All of which I have used in the past and I am sure you have too.
The difference is however; it is crucial for a person in any kind of pain, physical or emotional to be heard. Can you imagine going to a friend to tell her you just found out your husband was having an affair and her saying, "you'll be okay, think positive and you are such a strong person, you will be fine" -- of course not. Those things may be said over the course of the conversations that would follow as time went by perhaps, but it is not what you want to hear while still in crisis.
So why then do people think it is okay to dismiss people who are dealing with chronic pain, illness or surgery with those same placards?
I've often heard of people who were diagnosed with cancer and had to keep a stiff upper lip for the family and a host of friends. How unfair is that. You've been told you have a fatal illness and you aren't given a "moment" to digest it before you have to worry about others feelings. We all know being positive helps with healing, it helps with depression and it helps with pain. It does take some processing to get there.
In reading Why am I Afraid to Tell You Who I Am, by John Powell this morning I saw this quote which I thought was relevant.
"To reveal myself openly and honestly takes the rawest kind of courage"
That says it all, if we are being our authentic selves we will feel fear, disappointment, sadness and betrayal. If we cannot express that to those we are in a true relationships with such as friends, family or spouses, then we are not being our authentic selves.
Alternatively, if we do openly express ourselves and are not met with empathy we are left feeling vulnerable and alone.
There are those who flippantly say, "I only surround myself with positive people". What does that mean? I know it is important to remove or lesson the amount of time spent with toxic people. There's nobody who is positive all the time. The very fact that we are human makes it impossible. How can you experience life with all of its challenges and ups and down and not feel any negative feelings? Impossible I say. You can however, have an internal "go to" of being positive.
Have you ever had a close friend have someone dear to them pass away and when talking about going to the funeral or funeral home for a visit some one will say, oh I just couldn't bring myself to go there. It happens when a family goes through a crisis as well. Long time friends stay away, saying they didn't know what to do or say.
What to do, or say is easy; show up, say something, or nothing, just be there. An alternative could be, I'm here for you, what can I do, let's try to work this out, but mostly, I'm so sorry you are going through this now.
So the next time a friend or family member is in crisis, be there for them, allow them to release the fear they are feeling. Not everything has to be a positive experience, they will get there, but it is their journey, not yours.
Being of service for someone in pain, emotional or physical can enhance your own feelings of positivity, even if that means just listening.
Here is a cute animation that relates to the topic.